Center for Educational Innovation

Academic Affairs and Provost

Designing Smart Lectures

Overview

Good Lectures

Organization, dialogue, grounding toward critical thinking – these are qualities of good lectures.

Good lectures convey new terms and concepts, delineate historical context, demonstrate function, and draw complex connections between ideas. Well-organized, vibrant lectures offer efficient ways to explain important detail to large groups of diverse learners. Far from one-way monologues that serve as "information dumps" from teacher to student, good lectures ground students in a topic and include activities to motivate their critical thinking about that topic. In fact, a good lecture can model critical thinking for students when "a teacher questions her own assumptions, acknowledges ethical dilemmas hidden in her position, refers to inconvenient theories, facts, and philosophies that she has deliberately overlooked, and demonstrates an openness to alternative viewpoints" (Brookfield, 1995).

Good Lecturers

Enthusiasm, organization, communication, focus – these are qualities of good lecturers.

Good lecturers learn how to focus students' attention to help them identify and remember central points of the lecture. Considering rhetorical strategies such as context, audience, visual resources, and material demonstration (e.g., gestures, movement, tone of voice) in designing their lecture content and presentation, good lecturers organize lecture periods into smaller units and incorporate break-out activities to counter student passivity and foster critical thinking and problem solving. They provide materials such as study guides, sample test questions, lecture outlines or even lecture notes, slides, or overheads to complement their lecture. After all, students might hear your information, but they only process that information by working with it. Above all, good lecturers understand that the lecture format provides an opportunity to share enthusiasm for a scholarly topic.

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